Rob Carey

Rob Carey is an NCMM contributor and a features writer who has focused on the business-to-business niche since 1992. He spent his first 15 years at Nielsen Business Media, rising from editorial intern to editorial director. Since then, Rob has been the principal of New York-based Meetings & Hospitality Insight, working with large hospitality brands in addition to various media outlets. 

Content by this Author

  • Build a Performance Improvement Plan: Best Practices to Salvage Underachieving Employees

    An effective hiring process is essential to a midmarket company's success. Because you have fewer workers than enterprise organizations, you have to entrust employees with more duties and allow for less room for error. Hiring someone who is unable to perform creates extra work and stress for your team, compromising the company's performance overall. Organizational performance will also lag between termination and your next hire. Thus, the best solution is to help current employees improve in their roles.

     

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  • Business Apps and Middle Market Companies: A Good Match?

    According to the Pew Research Center, 35 percent of Americans owned a smartphone in 2011. Four years later, that figure is 64 percent. What's more, about half of all Internet searches are now done on mobile devices. Given these usage statistics — and the fact that they will only rise over time — middle market firms must consider whether having their own mobile business apps for customers is the right way to go.

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  • Amplify Your Social Message: 4 Key Parts of a Unified Strategy

    For any business, it's daunting to realize just how many social media channels must be tended to. Sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr and WordPress are only some of the outlets with strong influence in the consumer and the business-to-business marketplaces. At midsized firms, it's even tougher to keep up a vibrant, multichannel social media presence when there are fewer employees than at larger competitors. People won't always have time for these tasks.

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  • Should You Hire a Community Manager for Your Social Media Channels?

    It's no secret that the Internet is changing the way customers and prospects learn about, interact with and buy from companies. These changes are so profound that corporate executives must constantly rethink the roles of their sales and marketing teams and ensure their firms are represented in all the right places. Social media gives midsized companies the potential to maintain an outsized presence in their market and drive new and repeat business at low cost. Therefore, firms might decide to hire a community manager (CM) rather than have existing marketing employees handle all social media duties.

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  • The Operations Team: How to Be Small Yet Effective

    There is perhaps no more-important element of a midsized organization than the quality of its operations. Think about it: Even if a firm has competitive offerings and strong sales, operational inefficiency diminishes delivery of the best possible product or service. It also squanders precious capital, grinding down the firm's ability to succeed and innovate. In other words, suboptimal operations are the organizational equivalent of a slow bleed that can become life-threatening over time.

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  • Regular Website Maintenance Is Necessary to Maintain a Strong Brand

    Countless companies have devoted considerable time and effort toward the initial design, functionality and testing of their websites. However, some internal stakeholders often misunderstand a website's launch as the end of a process. It is actually just the beginning. In fact, a company has a responsibility to ensure that its online presence always works well for users, always furthers the company's objectives and always has adequate security against hackers.

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  • Building a Cloud Technology Blueprint for Your Company

    The potential benefits of cloud technology are tangible and tempting for middle market firms. The ability to store company data in a system that can always scale up to meet rising needs is a game changer, especially for midsized companies with little room for error in their IT expenditures. What's more, the various cloud functionalities available from third-party applications allow midmarket firms to battle larger competitors on a more equal footing in critical areas, including data analytics that help inform research and development, sales, marketing and customer service. Other cloud applications improve worker efficiency, thus strengthening the bottom line.

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  • Midmarket Firms and BYOD Policy: Balancing Convenience and Protection

    Among companies of all sizes, the practice of allowing employees to "bring your own device" (BYOD) is becoming more commonplace. For executives at midsized firms, though, the first impulse might be to reject a BYOD policy. After all, midmarket companies do not have IT departments as deep as those at large companies, which can often handle the wide variety of laptops and mobile devices that employees bring. The concerns about business effectiveness, along with network and data security, will naturally give midmarket executives pause.

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  • Cloud Computing and Middle Market Firms: A Good Match?

    The Information Technology Lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology characterizes cloud computing as "a pay-per-use model for enabling available, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications, services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction." In plain English, here's what that means: Companies can use cloud computing to leverage external technology applications and tools that improve back-office functionality and make client-related processes more robust. What's more, companies only have to purchase the amount of functionality necessary to meet their immediate needs, and they can scale up quickly and precisely whenever their business conditions change.

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  • Finding New Office Space: 4 Critical Factors

    When a company is ready to move to a new office space, it will stir both excitement and trepidation among management and employees (and perhaps even customers). If a midsized firm's executives take into account all the factors that determine which space is truly right for operations, they will minimize worry and maximize enthusiasm. What's more, they can also boost the firm's long-term competitive and financial position.

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  • 5 Tips for Using Reverse Mentoring to Boost Organizational Knowledge

    Formal training programs help employees and managers succeed as elements of their jobs change over time. Some companies also use mentoring, which traditionally is when a veteran meets with a younger employee to educate him or her in areas where the veteran has solid experience. The mentor answers the mentee's questions about work or the company, offers tips and shares stories about his or her own background and career path. This serves to accelerate junior workers' development.

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  • Ensuring Web Security: 6 Essential Tips for Middle Market Executives

    The importance of having a secure website cannot be overstated. Besides protecting customers' e-commerce data, you need to be able to fend off denial-of-service attacks and other viruses that can crash your site for days or even weeks. Web security also entails foiling hackers who seek to infiltrate your firm's underlying network by figuring out user identification and passwords and thereby gaining access to sensitive data or emails. A breach in any of these areas could result in a loss of not just money, but also customers, employee trust and your competitive status.

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  • Research and Development Effectiveness Comes From Strategic Alignment

    One critical element for building a stable middle market company is developing a strong brand identity. Successfully competing against larger firms happens when the marketplace knows your organization for something in particular. When a firm and its offerings are associated with certain valued traits, the organization has a competitive advantage that can and should be leveraged on a consistent basis.

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  • Middle Market Firms: America's Job Creators

    A report Dun & Bradstreet and American Express released in April reveals striking, thought-provoking facts about how the health of the middle market is central to the health of the overall U.S. economy. Though midmarket firms make considerably less than enterprise-level corporations, their economic impact is exponentially higher. Overall, the sector contributes nearly $6.2 trillion to the national economy each year.

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  • 4 Keys to a Successful Product Launch

    One way for middle market firms to compete successfully against the biggest players in their niche is to innovate. A new or significantly altered product that exceeds present expectations is the most effective weapon against large competitors, who can use economies of scale to hold down prices or marketing dollars to saturate the market's share of mind.

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  • Creating a Business Blog that Increases Recognition and Reputation

    When going up against larger competitors, one factor midsized firms struggle to overcome is the difference in marketing budgets. Fortunately, the Internet is the great equalizer when it comes to garnering exposure and building brand awareness, affinity and trust. One way to leverage the Internet is through the use of a business blog that employees contribute to regularly. Although larger companies can potentially throw more people and money at content marketing, it's content quality, rather than quantity, that wins the day. In fact, quantity becomes a disadvantage when a blog publishes low-quality posts; readers eventually tune out the brand. This controllable factor gives midsized firms a fighting chance at attracting eyeballs just as well as, and possibly even better than, the big guys.

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  • Essential Company Benefits for Middle Market Success

    If middle market companies are to compete for the best talent, their compensation and culture must rival those at larger companies. Interestingly, there's one way for a midsized firm to strengthen its position in both areas: by creating a variety of desirable bonus programs. In fact, a 2014 WorldatWork survey reported that attractive company benefits are becoming even more of a necessity. Bonus-compensation data gathered from managers at 713 companies, 77 percent of which have 1,000 or more employees, found that sign-on and retention bonuses are at all-time highs, while spot-bonus programs and referral bonuses are at their highest since 2000 and 2010 respectively.

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  • Build Supply Chain Resilience to Prevent Potential Crises

    A middle market firm needs cash flow and supply chain resilience to maintain daily business operations. Whereas most companies can predict the cycle of available funds and use 12-month planning to maintain liquidity, supply chain integrity is less predictable and not entirely within a company's control. For proof, look no further than the recent labor "strike with pay" at West Coast shipping ports as reported by The New York Times, which hurt companies across hundreds of industries that import raw materials, components or finished goods.

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  • Maximizing Employee Recruitment Efforts With LinkedIn

    Business success primarily hinges on having talented personnel employed at your company. Put another way, every position occupied by an employee of lesser quality than what's possible in the role causes some type of drag on organizational performance. At midsized companies in particular, the effects of suboptimal talent are magnified. Because of the smaller numbers at midmarket firms, employees are more keenly aware of their colleagues and their potential to contribute, meaning a lack of proficiency in even one spot may cause frustration that damages morale and productivity across a wide swath of the organization.

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  • Test Your Company's Cyber Security to Protect Important Data

    It's an unfortunate reality that can't be ignored: Although committed successfully against only a small percentage of the millions of businesses in the U.S., data theft is lucrative to perpetrators and damaging to corporate finances and reputations. On another front, the system paralysis caused by denial-of-service attacks is a satisfying turn of events for anti-corporate activists, unscrupulous competitors or even disgruntled former employees.

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  • Keys to Properly Onboarding Executives Who Come From Larger Companies

    The skills and experience possessed by an executive who learned and matured within a large corporation bring significant value to a middle market company. However, executives who come from such a different structure and culture are probably not going to be able to "plug and play." In other words, they'll need guidance during the onboarding process in order for them to fit usefully among the people and processes of their new middle market firm.

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  • Improving Your Customer Feedback Surveys: Tips for Capturing Quality Information From Willing Participants

    Gathering customer feedback is a higher priority for midmarket companies than other firms. You need to know what your customers are thinking about your product offerings on a regular basis in order to maintain competitive advantage and profitability. When customer feedback surveys are generated without a lot of thought, customers won't take them seriously, leading to wasted money and effort.

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  • A Better Onboarding Process: Shorten the Learning Curve and Motivate New Hires Through Technology

    Middle market companies have very few positions that can withstand a lull in productivity while a new employee learns specific duties, the firm's procedures and the company culture. Even more ominous is the possibility that a new employee washes out of the organization within 12 months because of failing to meet management's expectations, or because management didn't help the employee become sufficiently able or comfortable in the position. Such failures during the onboarding process are glaring in two ways: First, they are particularly costly to midsized firms, which have to spend to replace the jettisoned employee. Secondly, they are usually avoidable.

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  • What Does an Internal HR Department Bring to a Midmarket Company?

    Technology has certainly made it easier for middle market companies to focus on core competencies and operate more effectively. A prime example is the ability to outsource various administrative tasks that are typically handled by an HR department, such as payroll, health and retirement benefits, and legal and regulatory compliance. Without the option to outsource to specialty firms possessing deep expertise and robust IT systems, those tasks would instead fall to a middle market firm's executives, department heads, or perhaps even administrative support staff who are not experts in those disciplines and who have other responsibilities that likely deliver more value to the firm.

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  • Why PCI Compliance Is a Must for Middle Market Firms

    In 2004, the five major credit card brands — Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and JCB — instituted a set of requirements designed to ensure that all companies that process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment for cardholder data. Such data is defined as any personally identifiable information associated with a cardholder, including the account number, expiration date, name, address, and social security number. In fact, any personally identifiable information associated with the cardholder that a firm processes, stores, or transmits is covered.

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  • Using Business Consultants to Improve Employee Communication and Engagement

    In theory, there's one advantage that midmarket companies have over their larger competitors: the ability to maintain a culture of open communication. Having a smaller amount of employees should make it easier for everyone to work smoothly together. When management establishes the right atmosphere, it enables positive communication that builds employee trust, satisfaction, and loyalty.

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  • Improve Your Company's Web Presence: Attract and Engage a Bigger Audience

    The advantage of a strong web presence for midmarket companies cannot be overstated. Fostering web engagement can act as a great leveler between midsized firms and larger competitors. Customers and prospects spend so much of their time — at work and at home — online that a compelling, effective website and consistent, strategized social media action can make a big difference.

     

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  • How to Develop a Social Media Policy that Maximizes Benefits and Minimizes Risks

    The ability of your middle market company to leverage social media outlets is perhaps the biggest factor in leveling the playing field between you and larger competitors. Although enterprises have a much greater wealth of resources to devote to social media, the right social media policy can make a big difference for a midmarket firm. Many business leaders already seem to understand this: more than 68 percent of executives surveyed by Grant Thornton in June 2013 said that these platforms are either important or critical to their corporate strategy.

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  • All in the Family? Hiring Outside Executives Into Your Family-Owned Business

    Any family-owned business that achieves enough success to occupy a strong position in the middle market is rightfully a source of pride. While it's nice to think that the firm's leadership will remain among family who can sustain that success, it's not very realistic. Only 30 percent of family businesses last into the second generation, and just 12 percent last into the third, according to the Family Business Institute.

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  • Is Your Company Ensuring Your New Hire Will Succeed?

    While all companies face issues when bringing in a new hire, middle market firms are more exposed to the negative consequences that might arise from flaws in the onboarding process. In essence, onboarding is the months-long path to acclimation for new employees: to the firm's mission, policies, procedures, and culture; to their specific role; and to their relationships with coworkers and managers.

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  • Simplified Key Performance Indicators Engage Employees and Drive Results

    As part of the progression toward taking on leadership roles within a company, most executives become well-versed in the importance of developing and analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure long-term organizational performance. Fortunately for today's business leaders, advancing technology has made organizations capable of being data-driven in ways that make the consistent assessment of key performance indicators easier than ever.

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  • Building Brand Loyalty Through Social Media: A Non-Discounting Approach That Works

    Perhaps the most significant effect that social media has had on middle market companies is that it has vastly improved the ability of these firms to compete with much larger competitors. With a smart, steady social media presence that adapts to what customers and prospects are saying about their needs and desires, a middle market company can raise its visibility and become a go-to player in its industry. A firm can maintain that position through brand loyalty programs that reward fans for their social media activity that involves the brand, creating a virtuous cycle that benefits the firm and its dedicated customers.

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  • Generate Customer Retention for the Long Term through Word-of-Mouth Marketing

    In today's world of mass communication and widespread social media usage, it's important that middle market firms don't lose sight of how valuable word-of-mouth marketing remains. Midsized firms should continue to train employees on how to encourage communication through word of mouth among customers, prospects, and any points of contact in order to drive up customer retention.

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  • The Millennial Generation: Bridging the Age Gap and Building Synergy

    Multiple generations, from traditionalists to baby boomers to gen Xers, bring a variety of knowledge, skills, and perspectives into the workplace. The millennial generation has jumped into the mix, providing great potential upside for middle market firms who know how to bring generations together toward a common goal. But if you don't have a blueprint for getting these different age groups to understand, respect, and trust each other, your middle market firm might not withstand the productivity drain that results from such discord. Here are some things to consider.

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  • 3 Crisis Communication Strategies for Managing Negative Events

    Any company will have its share of high and low moments, but middle market firms that operate with less room for error than the largest organizations may face graver consequences. Any negative event, such as a terrible quarterly performance, the loss of key people, a failed process or product, legal difficulties, or necessary wage freezes or layoffs, is bad enough on its own. What makes these occurrences unrecoverable, however, is when one bad moment leads to a spiral of trouble.

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  • Choose the Right Office Perks to Boost Employee Loyalty and Improve Performance

    The news in late May that the U.S. economy actually contracted slightly during Q1 of 2014 reinforces the notion that the ongoing economic recovery has been neither strong nor steady. And while many employees might not be so fed up with subpar salary raises that they'll leave their jobs, employee dissatisfaction that breeds disengagement can inflict significant damage on an organization's productivity. 

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  • Achieving Strong Social Media ROI: Middle Market CEOs Play an Important Role

    Within firms of any size, social media ROI success is tough to achieve. In a July 2013 social business study from MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Consulting, C-suite executives acknowledged their awareness of the growing importance of external social media and internal social networks to their firms' success. But the executives also admitted to three major barriers impeding their firms' progress in social media: 28 percent cited "lack of an overall strategy;" 26 percent cited "too many competing priorities;" and 21 percent cited "lack of a proven business case or strong value proposition."

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  • Hiring Older Employees: How Middle Market Firms Can Benefit

    Given the encouraging economic environment that's emerged in the US recently, it is rather confounding that so many people with valuable experience are still unemployed. As companies reduced costs during the turbulence of the past five years, it's not surprising that there wasn't a high demand for hiring older employees during that time. But today, nearly forty percent of unemployed workers are over the age of forty-five, which is thirty percent higher compared to the 1980s, according to the Urban Institute.

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  • Contingency Planning in the Middle Market

    It happens without warning: an unexpected crisis significantly disrupts the work your company is doing. Depending on the situation, your company may lose an incalculable amount of knowledge, experience, and wisdom — intellectual capital. Every midsize firm must engage in contingency planning so that a significant event will not cause chaos in a firm's operations, stunting its performance for months or years.

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  • Using the STAR Method: Six Tips for Hiring the Right Talent

    For critical positions that need to be filled, a middle market firm does not have much room for error. Any hire that doesn't work out, even if that person is on the job for just a few months, sets the firm back considerably, both in terms of wasted compensation and wasted opportunity. Furthermore, it indicates that there are deficiencies in the firm's hiring process.

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  • Why Paying a Higher Starting Salary Can Create Long-Term Value

    When competing for talent against larger firms, middle market companies must leverage any advantages they have as they negotiate with their most desired candidates. But while a middle market firm can frequently offer unique benefits to a prospect that include a variety of responsibilities or a degree of autonomy that encourages creativity, there are times when a midsized firm is well served by offering a higher starting salary.

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  • Recent Trends in Unemployment Rates Are Encouraging for Middle Market Companies

    A quick look at the US jobs landscape over the past few months reveals a hopeful, if unspectacular, trend. First, unemployment rates have held steady at 6.7 percent since late January 2014, with job growth improving by a monthly average of about 187,000 since November 2013. Second, unemployment rates have come down from 7.5 percent in March 2013 and are expected to continue heading slowly downward as we move through 2014.

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  • Managing Employee Benefits: 3 Critical Issues to Consider

    The time is right for middle market executives to assess the administration of their benefits systems and to ensure optimal function for employees while also advancing the firm's strategic goals. With nearly all of the plan regulations and reporting requirements of the Affordable Care Act now in effect, it's clear that managing employee benefits is among the most complex and time-consuming tasks faced by middle market companies today.

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  • Build an Effective Open Door Policy

    Having an open door policy, where employees are free to approach upper-level management regarding any issue, seems like a winning position for a company to take. It promotes employee engagement, improves morale, and reduces turnover while allowing the firm access to internal knowledge and inspiration that could improve efficiency, productivity, growth, and adherence to ethics. Right?  Read More >
  • Maximizing Sponsorship Opportunities Requires a Coherent Strategy

    In 2013, spending on the sponsorship of sports, entertainment, cause, and cultural events rose by 4.5 percent to $19.8 billion total among North American companies. For 2014, that figure is expected to rise a bit more slowly — 4.3 percent — according to consulting and measurement firm IEG. But while digital media (particularly social and mobile) seems to be luring some money away from this channel, middle market firms that learn to complement their digital marketing channels with sponsorship opportunities will see significant gains among their target audience.

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  • To Lure and Retain Talent, Middle Market Firms Should Use Their Natural Advantages

    To succeed in the long term, most middle market firms must rely on innovations that produce organic growth and efficiency. Of course, you need the right kinds of thinkers and doers to achieve such innovation. What becomes a problem for middle market firms is that larger corporations desire such people, as well. The biggest companies often have the financial resources and name recognition to sway top talent toward working with them. However, there are many ways for middle market firms to attract and retain talent. Interestingly, the majority of them are not centered around compensation.  Read More >
  • CEO's Corner: Lessons in Business Success From a Veteran Middle Market Chief

    Burt Cabanas, who on January 1 stepped down as CEO of Benchmark Hospitality Group, has been in the hotel business since age 14, when he cleaned pools at a Miami resort. His legacy of business success: Taking a five-property management portfolio he purchased from Mitchell Energy & Development in 1986 and building what's now a 40-property portfolio with nearly $500 million in annual revenue. In 2014, he continues on as Benchmark's chairman.  Read More >
  • Corporate Philanthropy Done Right: Benefiting Your Community...and Your Company

    Often, when one thinks of corporate philanthropy initiatives, the vision comes to mind of a firm's CEO and a charity organization's CEO standing behind a giant cardboard check, smiling and shaking hands. Unfortunately, this vision actually serves to hold back the full potential of corporate philanthropy - specifically, the possibilities of this practice to benefit not just the receiving entity, but also to benefit the donor company in the business objective of becoming more profitable through lower costs and higher revenues.  Read More >
  • A Customer Training Program Serves More Than One Critical Purpose

    Depending on the product or service your company offers, a customer training program might be an absolute necessity, or simply an amenity that adds value. Nonetheless, anytime you use a training program or other means to engage customers in an effort to learn more about the usefulness of your product, you create an environment whereby those customers will be more satisfied with your product.  Read More >

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